COVID-19 Isolation’s Increasing Developmental Delays

How You Can Help with Dr. Maria Barreuco

                   Click above to watch video.

When my daughter was a baby, she loved to sit in her crib and turn the pages of her baby books. She was so sweet and quiet and didn’t start talking until she was almost two. My pediatrician suggested I have her tested for developmental delays, and since my older brother is autistic, I was concerned. Turns out she was fine, just taking it all in. She started chirping at age two and hasn’t stopped since. Walking, talking, giggling and cooing are all basic milestones in our babies’ growth. Developmental delays are at an all-time high due to COVID isolation.

So, what can parents do?

I talked with Dr. Maria Barrueco, a pediatrician with Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center in Broward about the Early Steps program as well as tips on how to teach your child vowels, sounds and more. WATCH VIDEO  


 Dr. Maria BarreucoQ: What are the milestones and what are the signs that my child is behind?

A: Milestones are specific depending on the age group. What’s important is for the parents to look for those flags. Even at a few weeks of age, that child starts looking for the parent and making eye contact. They may have not have language and words yet, but they are communicating with their sounds. At six months, the child should be looking for the family and when you put him on his tummy, he pushes up and really looks around. He should be using his hands. If he sees a toy, he can grab the toy and he can bat at the toy.

Q: How has COVID affected children’s learning development?

A: We are seeing issues with communication, personal social skills, even just structure. Parents haven’t been able to send them to daycare of have a nanny. This month our referral numbers are really record breaking.

Q: For the very young children who are learning vowels and sounds, and don’t have the advantage of watching the teacher’s mouths, because of a mask, what can parents do? How can they teach vowels to their own kids at home?

A: (See video 6:02-6:47) Dr. Barrueco demonstrates vowel sounds and how to teach sounds such as “hi, ahh, dada, ga ga ga, ma ma”. Vary the intonation, and enunciation. We have to be a teacher for our kids for the sounds because they are missing out on that piece of it at school.

Q: Any tips for dealing with home schooling and children who can’t sit on a computer all day?

A: Certain children can’t stay for a long period of time. I suggest small and frequent. Put a timer on, if he tolerates a half an hour, then take him out to shoot some balls, take the trash out, give him a break and some outside time.  If it’s a fidgety child who can’t stay still, give her some carrots or popcorn while he’s doing his homework. Find some strategies to calm him down.

Q: Where do parents contact you for more information?

A:  Feel free to call my office, Early Steps Broward, at 954-728-1021. Anyone, a friend, family member or teacher can make a referral for a child by calling Child Find Broward at 754-321-7200. The website for Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center is




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